"Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground"[note 1] is a gospel-blues song written and performed by Blind Willie Johnson and recorded probably in 1927. The song is primarily an instrumental featuring Johnson's self-taught bottleneck slide guitar and picking style accompanied by his vocalizations of humming and moaning. It has the distinction of being one of 27 samples of music included on the Voyager Golden Record, launched into space in 1977 to represent the diversity of life on Earth. "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" was chosen as the human expression of loneliness.
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September 5, 2010 Subject:
Genius played from true experiences of sorrow
This song still resonates with me to this day. The song itself comes from a place that Blind Willie Johnson knew all too well: loneliness, pain, and sorrow.
For more information on this song, Wikipedia does have a semi-decent writeup with some more sources about its history: